More Accessible Recycling at Christopher Newport


1 Avenue of the Arts

Newport News, VA 23606



To: Kevin Hughes, Dean of Students

From: Jaclyn Campbell, CNU Student

Subject: Proposal for more options and promotion of recycling at CNU

Date: November 10, 2015



The purpose of this study is to determine whether students at CNU feel that they would benefit from more options and availability of recycling on the CNU campus. The purpose is to also obtain their thoughts on more promotion of recycling on campus to become a more sustainable community.



Christopher Newport University has become an up-and-coming university and has really put itself on the map over the last five to ten years. It’s known for the exceptional housing, small classes, and myriads of activities and organizations. All of this recognition is great, but I think there is something missing that could bring even greater attention- recycling.

Currently, there are very limited recycling options available to students on campus. In public areas such as the David Student Union and the Trible Library, beside most trashcans are bins designated for recycling. They are not very distinct so many times they are looked over and all trash, including recyclables, goes into the trashcans. Outside of residence halls, there are dumpsters for all trash, but no bins for recycling. There aren’t even signs or advertisements promoting recycling on campus. If students wish to recycle, often times they have to take their separated materials to an off-campus location.

On average, a person consumes over four pounds of trash in a day, seventy-five percent of which is recyclable. There are 5,096 students currently enrolled at CNU, which averages over 20,000 pounds of trash in a day. One recycled aluminum can has the electricity to light a room for an entire week. Assume that half of the student body drinks one soda a day, the amount of one day’s worth of cans thrown in the trash could power a room for almost 5,100 weeks! The amount of glass deposited into landfills in 2009 in America is enough to fill enough tractor-trailers to stretch bumper to bumper from New York to California. There is a lot of waste happening on campus and in our communities that can be prevented.

After surveying CNU students and conducting my ethnographic research study, it was concluded that most students who participated in the survey were interested having more recycling on campus. The results showed that they would like more accessible locations for recycling, more promotion, and more education on recycling. The majority of responses indicated that many students do not currently recycling because they are not well educated on the facts of recycling.

There should be a recycling bin per every trashcan on campus. Large recycling bins for paper, glass, and plastic should be present at every dumpster outside of the residence halls. On-going programs should advertise and advocate for recycling to make it more known on campus, so others are mindful of the effects of not recycling. This could be a tremendous advantage for CNU and could set a precedent for other universities. There could even be options for funding from environmental groups, or tax deductions for the university. Sustainability is key to a prolonged future.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to read over my proposal. CNU is doing great things in the community and should continue to do so in more aspects. I hope this information encourages you to make recycling more of a priority on campus. If you require any further questions or information, please feel free to contact me at



 In the Fall semester of 2015, I conducted a qualitative research study on the current recycling status at Christopher Newport University. There are very few recycling options and promotions on campus. The majority of recycling bins are in public areas such as the David Student Union, the Trible Library, and a few in academic buildings. The few recycling bins look exactly like the trashcans that are directly beside them, but there should be more distinct differences between the two. Few residence halls have a dumpster designated solely for recyclables. These situations cause many students to either take their recyclables to other locations, or not recycle at all. Not only would better recycling help CNU become more sustainable and contribute to the environment, but it would be another great way for CNU to receive recognition. After conducting my ethnographic study and surveying students at CNU, I concluded that students here would definitely like more accessible options for recycling as well as more promotion and education about recycling. They indicated that the current promotion and options for recycling are very poor at CNU and would benefit from an improvement. They also implied that they are not educated well on the advantages of recycling and that it would help them to recycle more if information was provided by the university.

Keywords: recycling, CNU, options, promotions



 Christopher Newport University is an “up and coming” school that is being recognized all over the country for its exceptional amenities, beautiful campus, and academic and athletic achievements. However, there is one area that CNU is lacking slightly in-recycling. Recycling at CNU is currently subpar and needs some revamping. There are few accessible locations for recycling and hardly any dumpsters for large quantities of sorted items. Students can recycle in public areas such as the Trible library, academic buildings, and the David Student Union. The recycling bins are beside the trashcans and look identical. The recycling bins should be more distinct so that they are not over looked and there should also be large bins by the dumpsters for easy access. Also, there is little promotion by CNU about recycling or its effects. There are a few clubs on campus that are committed to recycling, but they only host one or two events a semester on campus. This is a great effort, but there should be on-going programs hosted by CNU itself. These programs should be more intentional and focus on educating students about the advantages of recycling.

College campuses are one of the largest hubs for wasted recyclable items. Students frequently use plastic water bottle, take out trays, and beverage bottles and cans. They also print a large amount of paper a semester and do not recycle it when they’re finished with it. A large portion of these items is not recycled because of the limited options and education on campuses. One recycled aluminum can has the electricity to light a room for an entire week. Assume that half of the student body drinks one soda a day, the amount of one day’s worth of cans thrown in the trash could power a room for almost 5,100 weeks! For every ton of paper that is recycled, five hundred pounds of air pollutants are not emitted, twelve thousand gallons of water are conserved, and seventeen pulpwood trees are conserved. With the amount of paper wasted on campus, CNU is wasting enormous amounts of resources.

Christopher Newport has the power and influence to fuel a highly effective recycling mission. Students could learn more and pass it onto their friends and family, starting a chain effect. CNU could also receive recognition from governmental and environmental organizations for its efforts.



 In this qualitative research study, an ethnographic style was used to survey and receive student thoughts and feedback on recycling at Christopher Newport. An ethnographic study looks at the shared patterns of similar groups or people, in this case, CNU students. The qualitative design aims to interpret learned patterns and language of cultural groups. There are two types of ethnographies- realistic and critical. Critical was used in this because it focusing on challenging the status quo and addresses concerns of power and control. Realistic ethnographies avoid all biases where critical does not focus on eliminating biases. An ethnographic style was appropriate in this study because a cultural group was being studied and the group was culturally similar with discernible patterns. To determine if CNU students recycle currently or if they would recycle if there were more accessible options, their daily lives had to be studied.



 A survey was created using Survey Monkey and contained nine questions. The survey was posted on three different Facebook pages, including the CNU class of 2016 page. In previous experiences, it has been found that many students will skip or ignore surveys with a great deal of short answer questions. To avoid this, the survey was comprised mostly of multiple choice questions and one short answer question. The purpose of the survey was to find out whether CNU students recycled, if recycling was accessible on campus, if CNU promoted recycling, and if CNU students would recycle if it were more accessible on campus. There were over 50 responses and all answers were entered into Voyant to create a word cloud. The three most prominent words-recycling, campus, accessible- were then entered into Lexipedia. Alternate meanings for recycling are sustainability, restore, and environment. Words often associated with campus are community, learning, and territory. According to Lexipedia, words commonly used with accessibility are obtainable, availability, and unlimited.

Below is the word cloud that was used to obtain the three most prominent words:

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 For the first question, students were asked if they currently recycled on campus. 45% answered “yes”, 35% answered “no”, and 20% answered “on occasion.” On occasion meaning that they throw away their Starbucks cup or take-out trash in the recycling bins in public areas such as the library or DSU.

The second question asked students if recycling was easy accessible on the CNU campus. 65% of responses indicated that it is not and the remaining responses implied that it was accessible in some areas.

The third question asked if there was a recycling bin outside of that student’s residence hall. 50% answered that there was and another 50% answered that there was not. After further investigation, it was concluded that there are absolutely no areas from recycling on East Campus, which is were a large portion of students live.

For the fourth question, CNU students were asked if they would recycle if there were more accessible options on campus. 95% of the participants indicated that they in fact would recycle if it were more accessible.

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The fifth questions asked how much CNU promoted recycling. 85% of respondents replied that CNU promoted recycling not at all or very little. Only fifteen percent indicated that CNU promoted recycling a moderate amount or often.

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For the sixth question, 95% of participants indicated that they thought recycling was important to the environment and 5% said they did not know much about recycling to answer the question.

The seventh question asked if students thought that CNU should promote advantages of recycling and 95% answered “yes.”

The students were then asked how educated they were on facts and effects of recycling. Less than half answer that they were educated and more than half said that they were “sort of” or not at all educated about recycling.

The last question was short answer. The main thoughts from responses were that students often do not know where they can take recyclable items, recycling containers should be more distinct from the trashcans in public areas, and that there should “definitely” be more recycling on campus.

From these responses, it was concluded that CNU students are very interested in a change in the current recycling status on campus. They want to recycle more, want more accessible options, and more education and promotion on recycling.



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